Tag: Toshiba Tecra

Product Review–Toshiba Tecra R950 (Part No: PT535A-00M008)


I am reviewing the Toshiba Tecra R950 which is Toshiba’s latest iteration of their work-home business laptops. This has business features like business-grade security and a shock-proof hard disk but is based on the new Intel 3rd-generation hardware platform. It also benefits from expandability options like an ExpressCard slot and plenty of USB 3.0 sockets.

The unit I am reviewing is a mid-tier high-performance variant but this series has cheaper variants that have less RAM and the cheaper i5 processor while there are higher-performance variants with a 256Gb solid-state disk and dedicated graphics processors.

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop

Price – this configuration RRP AUD$1822.70
Processor Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3520M cheaper option
Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3320M
cheaper option:
4Gb or 6Gb
shared with graphics
Secondary storage 640Gb hard disk
Extra cost:
256Gb solid-state drive
DVD burner, SDXC card reader
Display subsystem Intel HD integrated graphics
Extra cost:
AMD Radeon 7570M
1G dedicated memory (AMD Radeon 7570M)
Screen 15” widescreen (1600×900)
Cheaper option:
15” widescreen (1366×768)
LED-backlit LCD
Audio Subsystem
Audio Improvements
Network Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready with EDR
Modem Extra cost
Onboard 3G modem
Connectivity USB USB 2.0 (Sleep & Charge) + USB 2.0 with eSATA + 2 x USB 3.0
External Storage eSATA combined with USB 2.0
Video VGA, DisplayPort
Audio 3.5mm audio output
Expansion ExpressCard ExpressCard 34 x 1
Authentication and Security Fingerprint reader
Trusted Platform Module 1.2
Operating System on supplied configuration Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall:5.9 Graphics: 6.6
Advanced Graphics: 6.6


The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build Quality

The Toshiba Tecra R950 has that business look about it. It has the dark grey lid and a herringbone ribbed palmrest and is finished in the dark grey colour. Only the hinges are finished in chrome, with the right hinge being used for locking down the computer with a Kensington-compliant cable lock.

It is built well for durability, and does feels heavy. This characteristic is one where you could expect a long lifetime out of this business-class laptop.

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptopWhen I was watching some on-demand video, I had noticed that the Tecra didn’t run hot. This is usually a time that I notice that a laptop can run hot with the cooling fan running at full speed and / or the computer feeling too warm. This is even though the vent is on the left side of the computer and I felt minimal hot air leaving that vent.

User Interface

The Toshiba Tecra R950 has the same roomy keyboard with the hard plastic feel which does lend itself to comfortable accurate typing. There is also the separate numeric keypad which is a boon for entering lots of numbers in to that Excel spreadsheet or accounting program.

The trackpad still works as expected and can be sensitive if you are typing but you can still override it using a hardware button located below the spacebar. At least the thumbstick works properly as an alternative pointing device so you can have the trackpad off if you find its sensitive behaviour annoying.

Audio and Video
Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop left hand side - VGA, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, ExpressCard 34, SD card slot

Left-hand-side connections – VGA, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, ExpressCard 34 slot, SD card slot

I have noticed that the audio and video experience that this Toshiba Tecra R950 has given me is smooth for most tasks including audio and video playback. The video playback was still very smooth even through film scenes which may be dificult to reproduce. As for the sound, it cam through very clearly through headphones but the integrated speakers still leave room for improvement.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

The Toshiba Tecra R950 has many different ways to connect external peripherals to it. For example, there are many ways to connect an external hard drive to this laptop without trading performance – an eSATA / USB 2.0 connector as well as two USB 3.0 connectors.

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop - right hand side connectors - 3.5mm audio jack, USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, USB 2.0 eSATA combo port, DVD burner

Right-hand side connections – 3.5mm audio input-output jack USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, USB 2.0 / eSATA combo port and DVD burner

There is the DisplayPort socket used as the digital video connect and you would need to use an adaptor when connecting to HDMI or DVI displays such as most flatscreen TVs. Of course, there is a VGA socket for use with legacy video equipment like the cheaper projectors.

As for secondary storage, the Tecra business laptop has 640Gb as its primary hard disk capacity although some of the more expensive variants come with a 256Gb solid-state storage option. This is supplemented with a DVD burner and a SDXC card reader, thus having access to cost-effective removable storage without the need to carry extra accessories.

The Tecra is equipped with an ExpressCard 34 slot. This gives it room to expand in functionality because you can plug in wireless-broadband modems, sound modules and the like yet have the high performance. SD card slot being located directly under this can be obstructed by ExpressCard modules that use a large overhang

Battery life

The Toshiba Tecra R950 was able to run for a long time on its own battery for most activities as I have observed. For example, I was able to run it with video-on-demand for an hour and find that there is 75% of power left in the battery. As well, I had the Tecra play a feature-length movie DVD for five hours and 21 minutes before the battery ran out after just charging the battery.

This is something I would expect of a full-size 15” business laptop running newly-issued batteries and would preserve its credentials for long flights or similar activity.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop lid viewAn option that I would like to see for the Toshiba Tecra R950 and other larger laptops that come with the high-capacity hard disks is a solid-state disk that works as a cache drive to improve performance and battery runtime. Similarly the Tecra lineup could benefit from a Blu-Ray-capable optical drive as an option.

One accessory that this could benefit from is a DisplayPort – HDMI adaptor so that people can be able to use common LCD and plasma flatscreen TVs like those at home or in hotels as external monitors.

This Tecra series has become a chance for Toshiba to make a bridge computer like the Fujitsu LH772. This is where they could use some of the Tecra features like the fingerprint scanner but have different colourings, making it appeal to the student market.


I would position the Toshiba Tecra R950 as an up-to-date work-home laptop for most small businesses. It has the security where-with-all and the extra RAM and hard-disk capacity that the small-business owner would need. The Bluetooth 4.0 interface allows this computer to work with battery-operated Bluetooth devices that can run a long time on cost-effective batteries or work with Bluetooth sensor devices.

II was choosing amongst the packages available, I would prefer this model for most users and the model below (4Gb RAM, i5 CPU) for those on a budget such as students. The Radeon-equipped variants would work well for users with graphics and multimedia creation needs or, perhaps, intense gaming. All along, I would focus on the 640Gb HDD as requirement for capacity.

Product Review–Toshiba Tecra R850 laptop computer (Part No: PT520A-015003)


I am reviewing the Toshiba Tecra R850 laptop which is a business-focused standard laptop computer driven by the Intel Sandy Bridge processor series. It has a few features that would make it appeal to small businesses who want that “work-home” laptop such as increased durability and a highly-resilient hard disk with a shock sensor.

Toshiba Tecra R850 business laptop

– this configuration
Processor Intel Sandy Bridge i5-2520M Extra cost
Intel Sandy Bridge
cheaper option
shared with graphics on Intel HD setups
Secondary Storage 500Gb hard disk DVD burner, SD card reader
Display Subsystem AMD Radeon HD 6450M graphics (1Gb memory) Cheaper option Intel HD Graphics
Screen 15” widescreen (1366×768)
15” widescreen (1600×900)
LED-backlit LCD
Network Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n
Ethernet Gigabit
Bluetooth 3.0
Wireless Broadband 3G optional
Connectors ExpressCard 1 x ExpressCard 34
USB 3 x USB 2.0 (1 shared with eSATA),
1 x USB 3.0
eSATA 1 xeSATA shared with USB
Audio 3.5mm headphone jack, digital via HDMI
Operating System on supplied unit Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall 5.1
Graphics 5.1
Gaming (Advanced) Graphics 6.3

The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build quality

The Toshiba Tecra R850 series of laptops is finished in a black matte plastic finish with chrome-highlighted hinges. The lid and palm rest are finished with a fine herringbone-like ribbed texture that makes it less slippery to handle ad gives a quality finish to the unit.

The unit feels very well-built like what would be expected of a good business-grade laptop, and I would expect it to withstand a lot of heavy use.

User interface

The Tecra’s keyboard is a chiclet-style keyboard which, like the Portege R830 can be slippery to work. It could benefit from the keys having a rubber-feel capping or other rough texture on them to cut down on the slippery feel. At least you can still touch-type accurately on these computers.

Toshiba Tecra R850 business laptop keyboard detail

Keyboard with thumbstick and trackpad

The Toshiba Tecra R850 Series uses a dual-control interface for mouse-cursor control. Here, you have the familiar trackpad but also have a “thumbstick” (joystick) that was common on IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad laptops. The latter option may be of use if you want accurate cursor control.

You can disable the trackpad if you find that the cursor jumps around as you type, which I have found with this computer. This can be done by pressing a button under the spacebar rather than going through menus.

As well, there is a fingerprint reader that is used for secure logon and works with a Toshiba-supplied “password keyring” program as well as with Windows.

Expandability and Connectivity

Toshiba Tecra R850 business laptop left hand side detail

Left-hand-side connectors with USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI, ExpressCard slot and SD card reader

The Toshiba does well on expandability in that it has an ExpressCard slot for any future expansion options that may come along. As well, there is a USB 3.0 socket, a combined USB 2.0 / eSATA socket and two regular USB 2.0 sockets, which will satisfy the most peripheral-endowed workplaces.

It is also worth noting that all of the recent Toshiba laptops such as this one and the Portege R830 that I previously reviewed have the Kensington locking slot located on the right-hand hinge pin.

Audio and Video

The sound from the Toshiba’s inbuilt speakers is typical for a laptop computer. Here, there isn’t the full bass response and it comes out as very low-powered. If you want to gain better sound quality from this Tecra computer as well as most other laptops, I would prefer to use extension speakers, an outboard sound system or headphones for applications where you appreciate good sound quality.

Toshiba Tecra R850 right-hand-side detail

Right hand side with DVD burner, 2 x USB 2.0 sockets, USB 2.0 / eSATA socket, audio output, Gigabit Ethernet and Kensington lock slot

It is so easy to limit the display quality assessment of a business-market laptop to just text-based work but it is worth remembering that these laptops are used beyond the business norm of spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. Here they end up primarily as “business-home” laptops where the computer is taken home and used for multimedia activity there. In addition, a lot of businesses are dabbling in video and rich graphics as part of their presentation technique; and there is an increasing amount of business-focused multimedia content out there on the Web.

The AMD Radeon-powered display has a quality that suits most video tasks, but the display can be a bit too pale when run on the battery-saving mode. There isn’t ready access to the dual-mode graphics that the Sandy Bridge chipset is known for, so you can’t easily switch to Intel HD graphics if you want to run the Tecra R850 on integrated graphics to “spin out” the battery runtime further.

What I also like about this unit’s screen is that it isn’t of the reflective type which is the norm with a lot of laptops. This also makes the screen less of a fingerprint magnet. The unit has a VGA connector which will come in handy for older projectors that have this connector as well as an HDMI audio-video connector for newer displays. This also means that it can be connected to an amplifier or digital-audio converter that has HDMI inputs for better sound. It also has the regular headphone jack for connection to headphones or other equipment that yields better sound.

Battery life

I had ran the Toshiba Tecra R850 through the DVD run-down test and it was able to play for nearly 5 hours from fully-charged before the battery ran out to a critically-low point. I have also subjected this laptop to long sessions of regular use while on battery and have noticed that there was very little impact on the battery runtime available.

As I have noticed before, the new-generation Intel chipsets have improved the battery runtime for these laptops. This is even though the Toshiba didn’t have accessible dual-mode graphics.

Other experience notes

A feature that I appreciate with the Toshiba Tecra R850 Series business laptops, and one that may be common amongst a lot of its business-focused peers is a shock-protection mechanism for the hard disk. Here, if the hard disk experiences a sudden jolt or extended vibration, the read-write heads are parked in a safe zone away from the data and all read-write activity is delayed until the computer is stable. In some cases, this may lead to the computer taking longer to hibernate when you pack it away in your bag.

This is a function that is important for laptops that are likely to be carried around frequently while in operation. Of course, when these laptops are off, the disk heads would be parked at a safe location; and I would see these functions as being mandatory for all portable computers.

The Tecra doesn’t run excessively hot during use. This is due to internal design to permit proper airflow and a temperature-controlled fan that operates at the required speed for the situation.

Limitations And Points Of Improvement

One point of improvement that I would like to see for the Toshiba business laptops is for the keyboard to have distinct texturing on the keys so they don’t feel as slippery to use, especially if you touch type. This could be achieved through the use of rubberised keycaps or just simply rough-textured keycaps.

As well, Toshiba could work on a variant of this computer series which has the ruggedness and performance capabilities of the series like the hard-disk safeguarding features but doesn’t have the “managed computing” features that would be required for corporate deployment. This variant could then be targeted at students and small business users who want something that is long-lasting but less costly.

It could be part of a “bridge” laptop product lineup that stands between the computers normally sold to the “big end of town” and the consumer laptops that are sold through big-box retailers.


I would specify the Toshiba Tecra R830 Series computers as an all-round “work-home” laptop for most small-business owners who want to move their offices to the “new computing environment”. The test configuration is able to support most business and home tasks very adequately.

Toshiba Tecra R850 back shotI would recommend the higher-end configurations if you do a lot of graphics-intensive work like creating “rough-cut” videos or finely editing pictures. On the other hand, the 3G-enabled variants would be useful if you are able to manage a separate 3G wireless-broadband service with its separate allowance. On the other hand, you could wirelessly-tether your smartphone to your non-3G variant of this laptop for use with your wireless-broadband service.